Monday, January 5, 2015

Walking in Someone Else's Shoes

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Am I the only person who finds it adorable when kids try to walk in the shoes of an adult? Often the shoes belong to Mom or Dad. What's their motivation? I've always assumed it to be either "I want to be a big kid NOW," or "I want to be just like you when I grow up." I probably read too much into it. Most likely the kids are just having a little fun!

Figuratively, walking in the shoes of someone else can be a learning experience. It's difficult to REALLY do it, of course. But if you're lucky you might have an opportunity to do it. An opportunity like I had during the Fall 2014 semester.

For about six weeks, I was asked to take on some of the responsibilities of the communications director in my school district. Our previous director resigned, and the process to hire a new person began. In the interim, communications processes needed to continue. I was happy to help.

During that relatively brief period of time, I learned a few things directly dealing with communications and public relations. But I learned a much larger life lesson. Something I sort of knew in theory, but which has been solidified in my mind through experience. And it's a lesson I hope to be always mindful of going forward.

The lesson?

No matter how much we think we know about what someone does, we really only know bits and pieces of what they do based on our points of interaction with them.

There's a corollary to the lesson, too.

When we judge a person's actions/performance, we base our conclusions on a relatively small amount of information.

These lessons probably don't sound very profound. I need to find ways to word them better. But perhaps some examples will help clarify what I learned, and give you some food for thought as well.

How often have you found yourself in the following situations, or similar ones?

  • A child is misbehaving in a public place, and the parent isn't dealing with it the way you think they should. You find yourself thinking, "What is wrong with them? If that were my kid, I'd ___________."
  • An issue comes up in your school, and an administrator addresses it in a way that makes no sense to you. You find yourself thinking, "That was crazy! That administrator should have _________."
  • You've had multiple conferences with a parent over concerns about their child, but no matter what you agree on, the parent doesn't follow through with what they said they'd do and the situation doesn't improve for the child. You find yourself thinking, "What a shame. That parent doesn't care about their child."

I could go on, but I think you get the gist by now. As I dealt with communications responsibilities and issues, things which I had wondered about as an observer of the public relations and communications in our district became more understandable. I also became aware of responsibilities that I didn't even know fell under the purview of the department.  

When we deal with students, parents, colleagues, administrators, or people in the checkout line at the store, we are getting a "tip-of-the-iceberg" glimpse at their lives. Even if we interact with people on a consistent basis over a long period of time, we never have a full picture of the journey they are making. What other concerns they are working on besides the ones we might bring to them. How something else in their sphere of life might take precedence over something we feel is of utmost importance.

And so, going forward, when I catch myself thinking, "If I were __________, I'd sure be doing _________ instead of ___________," or something similar, I'm going to try and follow it up with, "But I know I don't know all of the factors involved. And I also know they have different experience to bring to the situation. It will be interesting to see how this turns out."

I'm hoping an attitude like this will lead to less stress (i.e. less worry about things that are not under my influence or control) and more compassion for those around me.

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Sunday, October 19, 2014

    ThingLink for Video Adds Interactivity

    I'm taking a MOOC through Coursera and UC Irvine called Advanced Instructional Strategies in the Virtual Classroom. This week, we had to turn in an assignment. One of the options for the assignment was to make an introductory video for an online course. I've used several video creation apps and programs before, so I thought it would be easy. But not so fast. The video needed at least one interactive element! That's not something I've done before.

    Enter ThingLink for Video, which was one of the recommendations for adding interactivity made by the course instructor. If you are familiar with ThingLink, you know it's a tool for adding clickable icons to graphics. Recently, they've added an option for adding clickable icons to videos.

    The only catch is, if you want to try ThingLink for Video, you have to purchase ThingLink premium. A one year subscription for educators is $35. I got a slight discount as a member of the MOOC, so I went for it. Even though I'd never signed up for or used the original ThingLink before. Time to find out what all the fuss is about!

    So, here's how I created the video below. It's a mashup recipe, for sure!
    • I used the free AdobeVoice app for iPad to create the original video, then uploaded it to the Adobe Voice website.
    • I used Camtasia Studio on my PC to record the uploaded video while playing it from the AdobeVoice website. Camtasia is not a free program, but there are other screencast recording tools out there that could probably be used. They need to be able to save into a format that can be uploaded to YouTube, though.
    • I saved the Camtasia video in mp4 format and uploaded it to YouTube.
    • I used ThingLink for Video to incorporate interactive elements in the video.
    And there you go! ThingLink for Video was very self-explanatory. There aren't too many options on the interactive icons when you insert them, which made it easy for a newbie like me. The thing I had a little difficulty with was adjusting where the links appear and disappear in the video.

    There isn't a timeline you can drag the links on to tweak their starts, so you basically have to delete the link and start again if you didn't get the timing just right. Not too cumbersome, but it would be nice if it could just be adjusted on a timeline. Additionally, there are only three options for how long the link displays in the video: short (5 secs), medium (10 secs), and long (15 secs). Perhaps in future versions, the ability to more finely tune link lengths will be added.

    All in all, it was easy to use and I think the video does its job. I've embedded the video below. Let me know what you think! Also, please share other tools you've used to make videos interactive. Thanks!

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2014

    BYOD in Elementary Schools

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    Have you implemented BYOD in an elementary school setting? In the U.S., that's grades K-5, or students aged 5-11.

    We're about to launch a pilot at one of the K-5 elementary schools in my school district, and I'd like to collect stories of elementary BYOD implementation, links to videos and anecdotes, training materials and ideas - essentially, anything that has to do with BYOD in the elementary classroom.

    Our infrastructure is in place, so technical specs are not something I'm looking for. Oh, and of course I'm going to share back what we have and what we come up with. Here's a link to the BYOD info page from my school district. We started BYOD in grades 6-12 last year, so we have policies and such in place.

    But elementary school is a different animal! So no matter what state or country you teach or work in, if you have resources to share for implementing BYOD with younger students and their teachers, please take some time to share in the comments below. Write all the details you want there, or post a link to something you already have posted online elsewhere. If possible, please leave your Twitter handle in your comment so others with questions might connect with you.

    Let's collect some fabulous resources so we can all learn from one another and improve instruction for all of our students. Thanks in advance for your contributions!

    All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.
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